Monday, August 27, 2012
Congressional Leader or Lump on a Log
ability to lead: As early as sixth grade she displayed remarkableleadership potential. Synonyms: authoritativeness, influence,command, effectiveness; sway, clout. (http://bit.ly/On7UNE)
One of the most frustrating things in life is when you have someone who is supposed to be a leader and it turns out they have absolutely no desire to do it. They will give lip service to it and "act" like a leader but when it actually comes to making the tough decisions they become a follower or an excuse maker. This doesn't matter if it is an Elder/Pastor in a church, a coach on a team, a husband or a member of Congress. Those that are truly leaders will lead and those that aren't only get in the way.
In agriculture right now there is a very important bill that is stalled out in the House of Representatives. Many of you know I am talking about the Farm Bill. It is a bill that is not only important to farmers but also to the school lunch program and SNAP (food stamps). Why, pray tell, is this stalled out? It is because of the lack of leadership from the Speaker of the House and certain individual Congressmen. They have wasted 80 hours of debate time to vote on the Repeal Obamacare 33 different times knowing full well that the Senate will not take it up. I have no problem with a symbolic vote but 33 of them borders on insanity.
In Nebraska, especially the 3rd Congressional District, we are blessed with the "Golden Triangle" of corn, ethanol and cattle. If we are not the single largest grower, producer and raiser of each of these then we are a close second. Anything that affects these three things is a big deal. Ag is the main driver in this district from actual crop and livestock production to irrigation and equipment manufacturers in addition to all the other industries that are ag related. When something as important as the Farm Bill comes up to the House and Senate, we expect are delegation to lead in the battle. We thank our Senators for doing this.
However, our Congressman Rep. Adrian Smith, is not leading on this. Oh, he is saying the talking points like:
-"ag committee only trimmed Nutrition Title by a few percentage points when the spending for it as quadrupled in the last number of years."
-"Senate recessed without taking up a disaster bill that the House passed" (There is disaster relief in the Senate farm bill)
-"we are about a year ahead of schedule when compared to the last farm bill" (A failure to lead then is not an excuse to not lead now)
-"the bill would come to the floor if the Speaker had the votes" (Be a leader and get those votes)
I know he isn't on the Ag Committee and is on the Ways and Means committee but he is constantly making a big deal about the caucuses he chairs like the Congressional Rural Caucus and the Modern Agriculture Caucus but being the chair is not the same as leading the fight in the battle for the Farm Bill. It is time for Rep. Smith to step up and truly fight for his 3rd District which we elected him to do. It is time to work for the floor and find the votes to pass the bill so it can get to Conference Committee. It is time to show the people back here why we elected him and that he does think all of ag is important in his district and he isn't just giving lip service to stay in power. And, by the way, when invited to speak in front of a bunch of corn farmers, don't find any excuse to not come. (That doesn't show leadership but a lack of testicular fortitude to face your critics)
If our Congressmen are going to refuse to truly lead on these issues that we know are important for agriculture then it is time to flood their offices with phone calls and emails. It is time for us to demand answers when we have the opportunity to talk to them one on one. It is time for the editorials asking these key questions of "if not now, then when and if not you, then who?"